E-commerce Email Campaign Automation: A step-by-step guide
It might seem counter-intuitive, but email remains the most effective digital marketing strategy despite the exponential rise of social media’s popularity. Especially for your e-commerce!
According to Statista’s 2021 report, there are over 4 billion daily email users, which this number is expected to reach 4.6 billion by 2025! Facebook reached merely 2.09 billion daily users. More than 306 billion emails are being sent and received every day. On top of that, 46% of mobile users prefer to receive business communications via email, and 99% of email users check their inboxes.
E-commerce email campaigns are a highly successful and by far the most cost-effective marketing tool generating an ROI of a whopping $36 for every $1 spent. Also, the form allows more flexibility and sends longer messages to customers at every stage of their lifecycle. Despite the passage of time, email remains a universal and direct way to approach your audience.
Email campaigns enable you to precisely define your target group and properly adjust the message. Customers share their email addresses and consent to receive marketing communications during their first purchase, or even earlier, via a pop-up on your e-commerce website. This free information is extremely valuable to your business and should be exploited fully.
Can you imagine how time-consuming sending and writing individual messages to your subscribers would be? This is why you should look into email campaign automation. Implementing automated solutions can boost your conversion rate and nurture customer relationships at every stage, so your marketing efforts should integrate automated emails into your marketing strategy.
But how does it work? How to plan and carry out an effective email campaign? Where to begin? Let us guide you through the whole process!
What email automation, actually is?
Email automation describes a software technology designed to help you reach the right audience at the right time with a message adapted to their profile, sparing you a tremendous amount of time and effort. Automated email campaigns are sent in response to a trigger usually pulled by the customer’s action, such as signing up for a newsletter, placing an order, or abandoning carts.
Combining e-commerce website analysis with the use of an email automation platform enables you to precisely segment customers by their demographic, behavioral patterns, or preferences based on their previous purchases. This method allows you to target your audience accurately and positively, contributing to establishing and nurturing long-term customer relationships.
Email automation software enables you to create templates and personalize messages. Making your customer feel special and unique is the cornerstone to building long-term fidelity. Marketing emails should perfectly fit the customer’s profile, mention their name, and feature birthday wishes or suggestions based on the products they’d previously shown interest in!
Picture yourself in your subscriber’s shoes. We all receive a tone of brand messages daily and usually only take a glimpse at the subject line and the lead before deciding whether we are interested. Opening an email not adapted to one’s profile can be truly offputting and significantly lower the chances of them opening the next message. Some may even unsubscribe or flag it as spam. It is simply not worth the risk!
Our article about strategies for building long-term customer loyalty in e-commerce covered all customer lifecycle stages. Think of it as any other relationship - bonding takes consistent effort, engagement, and time. What makes a customer come back? An exceptional user experience, feeling unique and appreciated. Furthermore, online shoppers are used to receiving transaction emails, promotional codes, and custom offers from other brands and expect the same from you.
Email automation campaigns can improve your customer experience, boost the conversion rate, and improve the workflow within your company. There are several mass email platforms to choose from that are intuitive to use. If you want to optimize the process further, do not hesitate to hire a digital marketing specialist. Sometimes even a few consultations can hugely improve your results.
What are the main benefits of email automation?
Using the contact information provided by the client
When signing up on your website, clients provide personal data such as email address, date of birth, or their location. They also consent to receive marketing communications from your brand. You simply must take advantage of such an opportunity! Some brands even offer subscribers extra points in their reward loyalty programs to fill the complementary information field.
Reaching out to a huge audience in the hope of turning them into potential prospects is difficult and does not come with a guarantee of results. The main advantage of email marketing is that 100% of subscribers have shown interest in your brand. Now the ball is in your court!
Reigniate the interest of your prospects. Convert your leads with unique promo codes for their first purchase. Walk your buying customer through the transaction process by keeping them posted every step of the way. Nurture the existing customer relationships and reengage inactive subscribers. Remember that the customer’s lifetime value grows with time and loyalty!
You NEED to make your customer feel special and appreciated at every stage of their journey. And automated campaigns can help you do just that! Create a series of templates for the software to personalize for you.
Emails are the principal tool used by marketers for personalized communication. Specific actions usually trigger the messages, therefore customizing the type of email based on the shopper’s unique behavior and habits.
Handling customer service manually may be doable initially, but it is impossible to keep up as your company grows. Email automation works the same way whether your list is 15 or 100 000 subscribers long enabling you to maintain the standard of your brand’s communication as it grows.
Email automation can save your marketing team precious time and resources. Automated workflows help you increase email sales, nurture the customer relationship and save your customer service team time they would otherwise spend responding to frequently asked questions.
Upselling and cross-selling
E-commerce platforms and CRMs collect data such as web activity, purchase history, and wishlists that should be used to segment your subscribers list and create accurate upselling and cross-selling campaigns.
Let’s say a customer bought a tablet from your online store. You can set up a cross-selling campaign triggered by purchasing the item, offering tablet cases, Bluetooth keyboards, or inductive chargers.
If your offer is subscription based, you can sent customers with the basic plan an invitation to join a free trial of the premium options.
Building long-term customer loyalty
It is much easier and more profitable to make an existing customer repurchase than to reach and convert a new prospect, and with email automation, keeping in touch has become easier than ever! Plan and schedule your messages ahead and keep your customers updated regularly. Regularity and consistency are key to any long-term relationship.
Make sure the messages they receive are pertinent to maximize their impact. A simple „Hello, We have missed You!” has more chances of getting deleted than „Dear Susan, we have not seen you around recently, and we just wanted to make sure you hear about our latest deal! The new blender model you have been looking for is now 20% off! Use this custom code XXX to get free shipping!”
How to create an efficient email campaign?
Set a goal
As usual, start with a plan! Setting clear and measurable goals is the best way to optimize your operations. What is the purpose of this particular automation campaign? The more specific you are at this stage with your goal, the better. This information will impact all of the following steps!
Define your target audience
Once you have set your email automation campaign goal, it is time to figure out who your audience is. Use your CRM data and website analysis, and track the customer’s browsing habits to precisely divide your subscribers into groups of individuals sorted by their similarities.
Email marketing automation tools can help you with that! Furthermore, knowing your buyer’s persona enables you to personalize the message and the offer, and define the frequency of communication. Properly determiningyour target group positively impacts the opening rate!
Separate your prospects, leads, first-time buyers, and loyal customers. They are all at different customer journey stages and should receive relatable proposals and educational materials.
Remember that your subscribers are being bombarded with marketing communications from other brands. Keeping the messages fairly regular is important to maintain the customer relationship, but stay reasonable with the number of emails!
Who is the email from?
The name in the „from” field is one of the first information subscribers see when opening their inbox. It should be easy to recognize and associate with your brand. Stay accessible to your customers. Avoid using „[email protected]” and use addresses with phrases such as „support,” „hello,” or „contact.”
Choose the right subject line
The subject line must make a great first impression and encourage the customer to open the email. Note down several ideas and run tests to see which are more effective for your audience. Wrong wording can have your email flagged as spam.
Avoid using words like „sales” or „promotion.” Keep the message clear, brief, and personalized if possible. Include a sense of urgency and kindle the customer’s curiosity. However, clickbaity subjects have a higher chance of ending up in spam. Do not overuse exclamation marks and all caps.
Use the preheader text.
Preheader text is another part of the email visible directly from the inbox before opening the message. Often, it quotes the beginning of the email. However, it is customizable and should make your message stand out.
So the customer has opened your email. Congratulations! You are halfway there!
Your email template should feature images (make sure they charge properly), a copy written in style adjusted to your target audience, and the offer. Your goal is to encourage the customer to click through. How to accomplish that? With a clear and encouraging call to action. The reader has to know what to do next. If you use a „button,” make sure it's clickable, and the link works well. Use UTM codes to track the customers’ actions better.
Content matters. The visual aspects of your emails are as, if not more, important, than the copy. High-quality professional photos and images are the first thing the user notices and should invite them to read the text instead of skipping to the next email. Orbitvu can help you automate the content creation process for scalable, consistent, professional product photography.
Don’t forget mobile users!
Do you know how many users open their email on smartphones? Well, according to Litmus, over half of the users. Remember that some templates and image formats will not load the properly on a mobile phone. Make sure your email campaign is adapted for smartphone users.
Use targeted signup forms
Signup forms are a great tool for building a solid email list. Try targeting to up your game! Disable popups for newsletter subscribers. You can also show popups to a specific group, for example, only interested in a product type.
Also, rethink your segmentation. What information other than email address would be useful for YOU? That is what you should be asking for in your forms.
It is a very important stage of preparing your automation campaign. Create several versions of different elements of your emails instead of testing one at a time. Try out different subject lines and headlines to see whether your subscribers respond better to emojis, % or $ signs, with the subscriber’s name or without, subject lines indicating a limited-time offer, different email content, etc. See what works best for your community!
How to measure the effectiveness of your campaign?
Open rate is a formula measuring the percentage of recipients who opened emails from a campaign. It is by far the most popular and important email marketing metric.
Click Through Rate
Click-through rate measures the percentage of email receivers who clicked on at least one of the links in the email.
Bounce rate indicates a percentage of email addresses to which the message could not be delivered and was returned by a recipient mail server.
Some emails do not go through spam filters. Users report others. Try to aim for a total of spam complaints lower than 0.1%.
This number shows how many subscribers find the message interesting or valuable enough to pass it down to their network.
This metric allows you to analyze what type of content triggers people to hit the unsubscribe button.
Tracking whether customers open the email, click through to your site, use an offer or buy a suggested product, share your content or unsubscribe, or continue to browse other products enables you to improve your automated campaigns over time and learn from experience.
The more you know about the customer’s habits, the easier it will be to offer them exactly what they want. Use tools like Google Analytics to learn more and identify your buyer’s needs.
Highlight the products or pages the customers are most frequently looking for. Try to understand their intentions, desires, and problems and cater to them.
Examples of great email campaigns
Send a warm welcome message to your new subscribers and turn them into your new customers! Although technically, there is no obligation to create an automated welcome series, most subscribers expect to receive such a message. Welcome messages are read four times more frequently and receive five times more clicks than most marketing emails.
Also, it’s your chance to make a great first impression. It will determine the likelihood the customer will open subsequent messages. Do not go too hard with selling. Remember that the welcome email should be above all transactional and confirm the user’s subscription. Thank them for opting in.
Some businesses choose a more complex template of multiple welcome messages. In this case, the user often has to confirm their registration by clicking a link in the first mail to activate their account. Invite the customers to stay in touch or ask questions, join your social media handles and addresses of brick-and-mortar stores.
If you want to boost the likelihood of them opening your future emails, include an offer of a free trial or a discount code for their first order. This way, the user will associate your messages with potential added value, continuing their engagement.
Remember to include a call to action and avoid spam trigger words.
The nature of this email seems purely transactional, yet it can truly make or break the paying customer’s opinion of your post-sale service. One of the biggest advantages of e-commerce email campaign automation is speeding up and smoothing this process.
Unlike other marketing communications or proposals, customers expect to promptly receive their order confirmations, receipts, updates, tracking information, etc. There is no place for error or delay.
Email receipts have the highest open rate of any other type of message. Buyers take a leap of faith when placing their first order in an online store. Even the slightest delay may shake their confidence. Your goal is to provide all the details and updates and answer the customer’s questions even before they ask them. Anticipate!
Remember to thank them for their order!
Email nurture series
So, other than transactional and informative, email marketing automation strategy should also include messages designed to nurture the customer relationship. These drip series should gently accompany the customer at every stage of the sales cycle, converting the lead into a buyer, and the buyer into a loyal customer. Keep in mind that only a small percentage of leads are people who are decided to make a direct purchase. Most hesitate, and some will never become active customers.
The potential customers who have yet to decide are the group you should focus your email marketing efforts on. Instead of showering them with discounts, provide some added value.
Educate your subscribers
- Offer recipes using your products.
- Feature tutorials for DIY projects.
- Teach customers a skill. For example, if you sell lenses, teach them how to shoot photos to achieve a certain effect.
- Provide access to know-how and experts.
Let them get to know you better
The nurturing series goal is to build a relationship after introducing your brand in the welcome email. Share your brand's motto and core values. Present the members of your team.
Write about long-term goals and relay your brand a bigger purpose, such as circular economy or upcycling.
Tell a story
People love stories. Still, trying to figure out what to write about? What about „Susan,” your first customer who inspired you to create a new line of products? Or about the beginnings of your company? Show the human side of your brand.
New drop or upcoming sales
Keep your subscribers in the loop! Let them know when the next drop is planned for. Offer privileged access before the official premiere!
Ask for feedback
A week after the delivery, program an email asking for feedback. Show the customer that you still care about their opinion after purchasing. Following up will let them know that they remain important.
In the e-commerce world, you need to listen to your customers to stay relevant despite the fierce competition. Be open to critique, as it can help you progress. Also, publish the customers’ reviews. Transparency will make you look trustworthy and credible in the eyes of your prospects.
Pamper your customer on the day of their birthday or the anniversary of their subscription with a discount coupon. Milestones emails are an effective way to personalize your communication and, once again, thank them for choosing your brand.
Automated cart abandonment emails
According to research from Baymard Institute, 81.4% of online shopping carts end up abandoned. When a buyer abandons their cart, there is no time to lose. The email should be clear, eye-catching, kind but with a sense of urgency and a visible call to action.
How to maximize conversions in this type of message? Set a time limit - for example, warn the customer that the car only remains recoverable for the next week. You can also offer a discount or free shipping for the forgotten item. Also, let the customer know about the limited stock. Try approaching the subject light-heartedly - „Did you forget something?”.
Instead of just a single email, send reminders to increase the effectiveness. The first email should be sent after 24 hours, the second after 48 hours, and the third after 72 hours.
There is a huge probability that, like many other e-commerce businesses, you have a large mailing list containing some passive subscribers. Who are we talking about? Users who have not opened an email, clicked on any of your links or made a purchase in several months. Keep in mind that those passive subscribers do cost you money.
It takes a unique approach to re-engage your audience. These people are already familiar with your brand and have shown interest in your products at some point. Once again, automation works great in this case. The re-engagement prompts can be triggered when a customer does not interact with a brand for a while.
Choose a relation-centered approach. Tell the customer you miss them and offer a 10% discount to redeem. You can also send re-engagement offers based on their purchase history.
Plan a series of emails in this scenario. The first one should be sent to subscribers who no longer open their emails. The second one should present an offer, encouraging them to open the subsequent messages. The final email should warn the inactive subscribers that you will remove them from your mailing list.
As you can see, email remains a potent marketing tool. Automation solutions can help you optimize the process, boost your conversion rates, and ensure exceptional customer lifecycle management with an ROI of $36 for every $1 spent.
Sease every opportunity and squeeze it like a lemon! Use all the information provided by the customer to segment your audience. Make sure your target groups receive only relatable messages. Email marketing provides a personalized experience and nourishes the relationship at every stage of the customer’s lifecycle.
Remember to actualize your subscriber list and remove inactive users to avoid extra costs. Also, ask the customer for consent before using their data and always leave them an easy way out.
We hope you found this guide helpful! If you are looking for automation solutions for your e-commerce product photography, contact our team!
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